“Week after week Christ washes the disciples’ dirty feet, handles their very toes, and repeats. It is all right — believe it or not — to be people. Who can believe it​?” — Annie Dillard

John 12:23-26
Colossians 2:20-23
Romans 12:1-8 (esp. 2)

Our natural inclination expects perfection. We crave it, not because we’ve ever known something perfect, but because we think we should. My car breaks and frustration ensues. My sister hurts me or fails to follow through on a promise. I’m disillusioned and jaded. Plans fall apart, and dreams sometimes vanish in the face of reality. I stand discontent with myself and constantly self-berate. I’m not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, confident enough, witty enough, worthy enough …

I’m not perfect. They are not perfect. It is not perfect.

We are not home.

And perhaps that simple statement, that obvious, yet elusive truth, brings freedom. If we are not home, if this is not heaven, then perfection is not our natural state. This world exists in brokenness. Those glimmering times of wholeness merely serve as reminders that there is something more.

Years ago I sat in church as ushers handed out roses to the congregation. The pastor explained that these flowers should serve as a reminder to pray for someone or something specific. When God answered the prayer, we were to return the flower so it could be included in a wreath.

Questions arose from the members. “How?” “Why?” Then someone asked a pertinent question. “What if we prayed for someone sick and they died?”

The pastor paused thoughtfully and offered a response. “Is that not the ultimate healing?” He posed to the congregation. “Are we not only temporarily well?”

These words return to me when I battle a case of the 24-hour flu. They provide insight when I limp around with a stress fracture. I tangibly experience and view my humanity. I am temporarily well just as this world is temporarily well.

We are not home … yet.

I ponder this thought and demand more from it than a simple salve for a disillusioned existence.

Paradoxically, I want more because I want less. I want more life through my acknowledgement of less perfection.

When I release my world from the standard of perfection, I live in freedom. No longer do people need to perform flawlessly and serve our friendships with infallible faithfulness. I can allow them their humanity, not in apathetic concession to imperfection, but in the mutual understanding of our shared failings.

From what do you demand perfection in your life?
How does this standard affect your relationships?  Your perspective?  Your heart?
What does it mean to want more?


© 2006